By Benjamin A. Bonney and David S. Harker
In the past decade, technology has rocked the mining industry. Automation has become more common-place, remote capabilities have sky rocketed, and real-time monitoring is better than ever. We are mining more for less, operating safer mines, mining deeper than ever, and recovering lower grades for a profit. Mining is catching up to the rest of the industrial world.
Digital transformation is modern innovation.
With the technological craze spreading throughout heavy asset industries, digital transformation is often considered the most impactful advancement an operation can make. Everybody talks about Rio Tinto’s ‘Mine of the Future’ (which was facilitated by VCI) and compares it with their own operation. And while there is no shame in manually operated equipment, a lack of underground wi-fi, or lack of a collaboration center, the absence of these innovations means an opportunity is being lost to improve operations. Digital technology is better, faster, and more efficient. Digital technology has the potential to decrease downtime and overhead, all while increasing production and recovery. Digital technology is viewed as the Miracle-Gro of mining, sprinkle the right amount in the right place and everything is better.
Digital transformation is not easy.
Anybody who has attempted to integrate new technology into an operation can say that it is never as easy as Miracle-Gro. Even after all the planning, engineering, financial analysis, and projection, it doesn’t always work according to design. Unexpected malfunctions or damaged equipment can create extensive downtime with new technology. Operators often continue to do things “the old way.” New technology is sometimes simply ignored or unused and any possible improvements can be thwarted. It poses the question, “What did we do wrong?”
Technology is not the only part of the solution.
Although it may seem the most impactful, it’s not the new technology alone that’s going to solve your problems. Although necessary in making these advancements possible, digital technology is only part of the whole solution. The whole solution requires that this new, different technology be accepted and supported by the workforce. To support the changing technology, a flexible workforce and a renewed business strategy is necessary. All areas of the organization must be prepared to support and integrate the new advancements.
Why do digital transformation efforts fail?
The evidence supports the need for effective change management when implementing new